Are Women Better Negotiators Than Men?


Ladies, if you think sexism makes men bad business negotiators, you've lost the negotiation before you begin. The definition of a successful negotiation is one in which both sides win.

Both sides win when there is mutual respect and a willingness to compromise to achieve the best result that is possible and profitable for both negotiators.

If you, a woman, enter the negotiation with the assumption that men insist on being dominant; you're both antediluvian in your attitude and doomed to fail both professionally and in your personal relationships.   

It's time to get the chips off your shoulders, stop with the breathless sense of victimization and recognize the changing world that women have lived in for the last 40 or so years. Men, especially the white male, have been on the defensive for a long time. More women are graduating from college than men. More women are deferring or foregoing marriage, because they can.  

Women no longer need a man to go out and hunt and grow food to feed the family. Women can fight a war alongside their male counterparts because the skills required in most military occupational specialties (MOS) depend more intelligence and less brute strength.

The biggest barriers to genuine sexual equality are the stereotypes that women still subscribe to – consciously or unconsciously. I can only guess that is why Fifty Shades of Grey is so popular.  

My early interest in learning and influencing how business actually worked made me a minority of one in most of my graduate school classes and in the early years of my career.   I've been the victim of work place sexual harassment. So, I don't approach the subject of sexism with rose-colored glasses!

But I have never entered a business negotiation (or a personal relationship for that matter) believing that being a woman meant that I had to be subordinate or subservient. Nor have any of the men in my professional or personal life ever felt either threatened or intimidated by the facts: I am smart, capable, logical, and self-reliant plus I am blessed with a great sense of humor.

Showing your respect for the work to be done is fundamental to a successful negotiation regardless of who is involved. That means coming to the meeting prepared with the facts, the relevant figures and concise arguments to support your objectives.

Yes, there are stylistic differences that affect the interpersonal exchanges in a negotiation.  A smart woman has to recognize those nuances in order to turn perceived constraints into strengths.   

But, ladies, you must never lose sight of the objective: negotiating a mutually acceptable and profitable deal. That's not going to happen if you walk into the room believing the guy across the table is smarter than you are or is your enemy. Believe me he is not smarter.  Nor is he your enemy unless you make him one by playing to your own worst stereotypical instincts.